Kevin Harvick reclaims the No. 1 spot in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings with his victory in Sunday’s Cup playoff opener at Darlington.
Harvick takes over the No. 1 spot from Denny Hamlin.
Now the series heads to Richmond Raceway for Saturday night’s playoff race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
Here is this week’s Power Rankings:
1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 2): Didn’t have the dominant car at Darlington. Sometimes, though, it’s about being in the right position at the right time. He was to score his eighth victory of the season. Could he be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win 10 races in a season?
2. Denny Hamlin (Last week No. 1): Appeared headed for a strong finish before he missed pit road and lost time going back around the track for one more lap. A debris caution a few laps later left him stuck outside the top 10. On to Richmond, a track he has three Cup victories.
3. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 3): Aggressive move for the lead against Chase Elliott backfired and put both in the wall. Instead of a victory, Truex finished 22nd. That ended his eight-race streak of finishing fourth or better. Now he looks to Richmond. He swept both Cup races there last year.
4. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 4): Led 114 laps at Darlington (second only to the 196 laps Truex led) but was a victim of incident with Truex late in the race. The last two times at Darlington, Elliott has been wrecked by a Joe Gibbs Racing car while running second.
5. William Byron (Last week No. 4): Fifth-place finish in Southern 500 marked his third consecutive top-five result. He had not finished better than seventh this season until his hot streak, which includes a win at Daytona.
6. Joey Logano (Last week No. 8): Overcame damage on a restart and a right front tire going down to finish third at Darlington. He has seven top-10 finishes in the last eight races.
7. Alex Bowman (Last week No. 6): Rallied from a slow pit stop after a problem with the jack to finish sixth. He scored 12 stage points, giving him 43 points for the race. Only winner Kevin Harvick scored more points in the Southern 500.
9. Austin Dillon (Last week unranked): Start of the race was nearly a disaster. Team switched left- and right-front tires. The error was caught. Dillon overcame a tire issue early in the race and benefitted from the last caution to finish second at Darlington. He has two top 10s in the last three races.
10. Kyle Busch (Last week unranked): Placed seventh at Darlington. In the last five races that he has been running at the finish, he has placed fifth, fourth, third, 11th and seventh.